Activists take neighborhoods back from gangs

Community activists patrol neighborhoods where gangs are prominent, June 28, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Community activists patrol neighborhoods where gangs are prominent, June 28, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Pastors, deacons, police and community activists gathered on a hot night in the East Burnside neighborhood of Portland, an area known for gang activity, to take back the streets and show residents they care.

“Some of the gangs felt they have taken over these apartment complexes,” said PPB Lt. Vince Elmore, “and we made them aware that we’re not going to do that and we’re giving it back to the tenants.”

Pastors and deacons walk the neighborhoods and talk with people who wouldn’t generally talk with police.

“They have fathers and brothers and uncles who have all been in prison – what do they call it? Institutionalized,” said resident Johnny Bailey. “So the only man they know is sell drugs, pimp your women, rob and steal.”

By coming together these people hope just by being there they will make a difference.

“We arrested a young man the other day,” Lt. Elmore said. “But we also took a food basket to his mother, who’s 79 years old. She had a loaf of bread and some milk in her house, and that’s it.”

Recent budget cuts to the Gang Enforcement Team make efforts like this more important.

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